I am far from home, far from The Empire’s mighty arms and the warm embrace of my family. I am on my way to the Sword Coast, to further my purpose in the grand scheme of my sister’s glory. But before I can make it to Baldur’s Gate or even Waterdeep, I must go to Greenest.
Unfortunately, I was accosted by purple robe wearing bandits. In the name of the Cult of the Dragon, they demanded my valuables. I don’t have much gold, and the things I consider treasures are the gifts given to me before my journey. I doubt some some cosmetics and colourful scarves are worth much to them.
I boasted that my grandfather was a great dragonslayer, and I was not afraid of them.
All horrible lies, and paid for them by tossing almost all of my money behind me as they chased me off.
I hope a copper nailed one of them in the eye.
Shaken, poorer, but still very much alive, I encountered some unusual travelers on the road to Greenest.
Swept up into their intrigue, I followed them as they spied upon a small encampment. There were four green-cloaked rangers, hauling their kill and starting on dinner. They eventually split up, with two remaining at camp.
My new allies spoke confidently that those at the camp were associated with the dragon cult. I was still in a pique of outrage, so I believed them. I’m a stranger in this unfamiliar land, so I figured it would be prudent to stick with this motley band until a more secure situation presents itself.
The party split off to take care of those gone afield, while Grim, Hammond, and I dealt with those at camp. The plan was simple, I would go to the camp and distract the two with Grim providing protection. Hammond would cover us with arrow fire if anything untoward happened.
The automaton’s protective regard of little, insignificant me was most endearing.
I wish I could have persuaded or charmed those two rangers into providing some information about their affiliations or what was going on at all, but I was far too intimidated and suffering a bout of nerves from the day so far to even try.
An arrow to the body and passing out were the rewards for my hesitation. When I came to, I managed a healing word for myself and much fretting over poor, battered Grim.
Even though the camp was secured, there was the matter of a nearby cave that held the interest of the dragonborn ranger and the cleric. They left to investigate it, and before I knew it, there was shouting about cultists and kobolds before a ruckus broke out.
The rest of us ran to the cavemouth to assist. I could only see the dragonborn’s head lying a few feet from his body before another humiliating blow laid me out.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, I only heard a great shout and felt heat before darkness overtook me.
I awoke to a princely face, his brow furrowed in concern. I thanked this cleric and gave him the name I now traveled under.
Oh, it is much like the stories I grew up with as a child: a maiden awoken in the arms of the brave hero who rescued her! It is silly, but right now, I do admire this Ryk, and I strongly believe that he is of good character. He is a cleric after all, isn’t that indication enough?
I am sorry that we lost one of our own, but we regrouped back at Greenest. Or what was left of it.
From what I gathered, the cultists razed the town and took all of its treasure. What a sad situation, and my heart goes out to this village and those who dwell in it. I know they couldn’t offer much, ravaged as they were, but I assisted where I could. If not rebuilding homes, then lightening their spirits.
It was then that we were off to another town to report to some authority that most of my new companions and protectors were aware of.
Before reporting to them, I busked for a pocket money, then went to the local library to continue my research for my sister. On my way out, I bumped into a most curious wizard, Karybdus. Feeling quite friendly, I enlightened him on the possible origin of his name. He was not impressed, but he seems like a cantankerous fellow anyways.
Another stray followed us – brother Yero, a humble monk.
It wasn’t long before we were brought before Leosin the monk and another older gentleman. They appraised us of the situation: some of my compatriots were charged by these men to investigate and stop the cultists who pillaged Greenest. Their intelligence told them that their caravan was heading toward Baldur’s Gate, and now we were tasked to follow them and stop them from enacting whatever nefarious scheme.
Of course, they offered us access to better resources if we inducted ourselves in their respective organizations, the Harpers and the Order of the Gauntlet. Both sides have decided to put aside whatever differences and agendas they had to focus on this dragon cult. I’m afraid I’ve had my fill of martial forces back home, so I joined the Harpers instead as a watcher. The order, while secretive, values the spread of information and upkeep of justice – a fitting order for a wandering bard, right?
I tried to forget that I was Dinarzade, the scared servant girl, and tried to act as Dina Shade, the carefree raconteur. So I enjoyed the rest of the evening in the tavern, listening to the boisterous old military man and trying not to miss Zammurud.
Morning sent us off – with some gold and horses – to Baldur’s Gate, an amazing merchant city that I’d only heard of from Nafisah, one of my employers. Former employers, I should remind myself.
The city’s daunting fortifications only hide its splendour and protect the treasures within, but I’m afraid I didn’t sight-see or partake of anything. I was trying to alter one of my headscarves by stitching in the Harpers sigil, which impressed my traveling companions quite a bit. I’m not a master tailor, I just know enough to put together a competent stitch and perhaps some rudimentary embroidery; it’s just something I picked up around the harem.
We were shuffled off to meet our next contact, the merchant Akreni, who harboured us while we equipped ourselves. He briefed us on our next mission: we were somehow supposed to insert ourselves into the next outgoing caravan that the cultists would be part of. While there, a plan was laid out.
Apparently, my sewing skills would be used to assist Mordai with creating cloaks that would help us with our infiltration. But first, we would need the materials. So I was off with the tiefling to get purple cloth. He was to play my master, and I his servant. It is not too far of a stretch for me, and settling into a familiar role must have made our little performance very convincing.
We strode into the shop, and I spoke as officiously as I could while Mordai played the disdainful lord. I asked for enough cloth to make seven robes and got double in return! I was suspicious at how easy the task was, but held my tongue until we left the premises. Mordai though, he conspiratorially whispered that we should do that again.
Unfortunately, now that we had as much purple cloth we would need, Mordai and I were confined to Akreni’s shop, sewing up new robes. I was so engrossed with my work that I didn’t pay much attention to what my compatriots were up to. All I know was that they were gathering information on the cultists’ movements within Baldur’s Gate, but whether that was fruitful remained to be seen. Within three days, Mordai and I managed to make four robes, and Ryk’s purloined one made five.
I kept the robes and we were off to the next outgoing caravan. We had to make our own way, and many of us offered our services – some as caravan guards, others as hired hands, and some ingratiated themselves with the merchants.
I’m afraid I am far more Dinarzade than Dina Shade, for I inspired pity rather than hospitality. A few merchants threw together a handful of gold for the entire two month journey. Paltry compared to the daily wage the new guardsmen were getting.
Nonetheless, we were now on the caravan. As were the cultists. They sure drew a lot of attention with a heavily guarded palanquin, its sole occupant veiled from our view. I imagine a lot of us were anticipating its inclusion with the merchant caravan, but our hopes fell as we left it behind in Baldur’s Gate. If it was some consolation, there were some other cultists with their wagons on the convoy.
I realize now that this two month journey will take me even farther from home, and I have allied myself with strangers whom I barely know.
I fervently pray to The Fist to lend me His strength.